“Same” will be different.
The show, which is subtitled “Local stories of gender-based violence” and planned for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Perseverance Theatre, is a first-of-its-kind event in Juneau and will focus on telling true stories recounted by survivors.
“I think that there’s an awesome feeling of solidarity that comes with sharing stories,” said Allison Holtkamp, director of the show.
“Same” will have donation admission with proceeds going to AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies), Juneau’s shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Holtkamp said the idea for the show came after a conversation with a friend who was “going through something,” and Holtkamp reflecting on her own experience.
“We were upset stories aren’t being heard,” Holtkamp said.
Holtkamp, who is also a comedian, was also wrestling with the question of what stand-up comedy is doing in response to the #MeToo movement, and said “Same” is partially inspired by Hannah Gadsby’s “Nanette.”
The popular stand-up special released this year on Netflix combines laughs with serious, sometimes furious takes on Gadsby’s experiences as a queer woman and with gender-based violence.
With those thoughts on her mind, Holtkamp sent out an email to about 100 people soliciting stories, storytellers and support for the project that became “Same.”
“I got a huge response,” Holtkamp said. “A lot of people offered support. It’s been an awesome experience.”
The end result is 10 stories that cover many facets of gender-based violene. Some are told by the survivors themselves and some are anonymous stories told by storytellers.
Donnie Gott, sound designer and storyteller, said the show’s stories address toxic masculinity and rape culture as well as at-risk populations such as Alaska Native and transgender people. “Same” also includes stories of violence against men and violence against women perpetrated by women as well as accounts of verbal violence.
“We wanted to be as inclusive as possible,” Gott said. “We really wanted to get as many voices as possible.”
Holtkamp and Gott said an effort has been made to tell stories in a way that is unflinching but careful to consider the impact of the words.
“Care has been taken to tell stories responsibly without messaging and without re-traumatizing people,” Gott said.
Storytellers will be permitted to withdraw up until showtime, Holtkamp and Gott said, and during the show audience members will be allowed to leave at any time. An AWARE advocate will also be at the show to answer questions or provide resources for people who need them.
Also, Holtkamp said the stories do not contain the names or identifying information of alleged perpetrators.
Holtkamp said the show isn’t about othering or calling people out.
“We don’t want to take away the spotlight from the women and men telling their stories,” Gott said. “It’s about people telling their stories.”
Both Gott and Holtkamp acknowledged the planned stories will be difficult to hear, but they both made a case for attending “Same” — other than the cookies and beverages that will be available.
They said there’s humor in every story, and it can be empowering to hear a harrowing memory come from the mouth of a thriving human being.
Plus, the toughness of the material is, in part, the point of “Same.”
“People have no problem hearing fictional tough stories,” Gott said. “This work is more significant, more important. It’s harder, but that doesn’t make it bad.”
Know & Go
What: “Same: Local Stories of Gender-Based Violence”
Where: Perseverance Theatre, 914 Third St., Douglas.
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 22.
• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at 523-2243 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @capweekly.